Well, I don’t know about you guys in the North, but down here in Oz it was way too late to watch the Steorn cavalcade at the scheduled broadcast time, so I missed the actual moment that marked the re-writing of History As We Know It. Damn.

But as soon as I woke up, I tuned into The Guardian this morning to read about the massive shock and disbelief of scientists around the world as they came to the cruel realisation at just how wrong they’d been to dismiss Steorn as a bunch of conniving swindlers. Alas – not so much as a whisper about Steorn’s miraculaous achievement. There were just more boring stories about the iPad. So I jumped across to the Steorn website for the lowdown, and to watch the video of the ground-breaking demonstration to find that… they’re going to post it tomorrow.

Oh heck. I guess that the universe has waited this long for its physical laws to be broken that one more day won’t hurt. While I was at Steorn, I watched some other videos that they have, including a six part demonstration of absolutely fuck all. Mr Slippery himself, Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy, was there with plenty of claims about how great their Orbo motor was, and the wonders it could accomplish:

“The electromagnetic components themselves return more energy and/or heat than is put into them!”

“It can achieve from 150 to 200% efficiency!”

“The faster you go, the more powerful the device is. In theory there is no limit to the energy it can produce.”

And as I watched the long-winded and banal technical demonstration (that was so full of misdirection and waffle that even my untrained engineering mind could spot it) I kept wondering “If the thing does what it says, why don’t they just show it powering a toaster or something?”

Indeed, in the Q&A afterwards a sensible gentleman asked just that. Here is the exchange verbatim (my thoughts highlighted), complete with Sean McCarthy’s squirming1:

Bearded Gentleman: “So you say the reason that you don’t have a prototype that demonstrates load is that it’s cost prohibitive?”

Sean McCarthy:”No, I didn’t say that.” [Uh oh. Someone with some brains snuck into the demo. How did that happen?]

BG: “Well… why don’t you have one?”

SM (looking as if the guy has just spoken to him in Esperanto): “Sorry?” [Seems like a reasonable question to me you pillock]

BG: “Why don’t you have one then?”

SM: “Oh, wh… um.. wha? You mean showing load? We’re recharging batteries and you will see… we’ll be lighting lights and all that kinda stuff later on… [That’s ALL we want to see, dropkick.] but… you’re misunderstanding what we’re about. [You know, I think the Bearded Guy has a very good idea of what you’re about…] As a busi… we’re not, we’re not going to be next week selling generators down here just to charge your iPhone” [Who asked if you were?]

BG: “I think the problem though is that this isn’t really very convincing”

SM: “To whom?” [Oh, let’s see… to ANYONE you brainless halfwit!]

BG: “To the general public”

SM: “Um… we’re not… we’re interested in the development community. [OK, well show it to THEM then you simpleton]

BG: “OK, but you’re broadcasting it on the internet”

“Absolutely (smug laugh)… we’re look… as I said… you understand our business model is engaging with the b… we’re not selling anything to Joe Public. Y… I mean, there’s no box of tricks we’re going to sell [Wow, they’re not even selling the box. Just the tricks.], we’re saying, we’re trying to sell this to the product development community and, if they understand the experiments, and they believe them [Yeah, now see, this is the crux of the problem Sean – NO-ONE BELIEVES THEM. Hence the reason we want to see your daft device actually doing what you claim it does!], um, that’s the next step for us to engage with the product development communities. [Waffles with syrup, anyone?]

(I’ll spare you anymore of the blow-by-blow – it’s exceptionally tedious – but if you think I’m exaggerating you can watch it to verify what comes next: Mr McCarthy goes on to say it’s cost prohibitive to build a demonstration Orbo motor,2 comparing it to building just one hard disk drive3 “… but even if I had a billion dollars, we still wouldn’t build one…”. Well, no, because even though you are a complete moron, you know it would be completely fucking stupid to waste a billion dollars on building something that doesn’t actually DO anything.)

So, examining the above exchange, we see Sean McCarthy first saying that the reason that Steorn can’t show us a working version of Orbo has nothing to do with it being cost prohibitive. Then he promises that ‘later’ they will be showing it ‘recharging batteries and lighting lights’. In the same sentence he negates himself and says that they won’t be making ‘a generator to charge things’,4 and then, a few sentences later explains this as being ‘because it’s cost prohibitive’. Go back and plug Mr Bearded Guy’s original question in here, and see how long you can go around this loop before you fall off.5

Sean McCarthy has not been merely kissing the Blarney Stone, he’s been chewing off dirty big chunks. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s video.

  1. Some of his oleaginous tone does come through in the text, but to get the full effect you will, unfortunately, have to watch the clip []
  2. Um.. actually, what the FUCK, then, is the thing in the video clip that’s spinning around and around with all the measuring gadgets hooked up to it? My brain is exploding here Steorn! If you can’t build one, then the gadget you’re showing us is what, exactly? Why are we here again? []
  3. I fail to see how the analogy is even remotely relevant – the reason people will put money into building millions of hard disk drives is because the science behind them works and is completely understood. If you’re claiming you can do miracles, then you have to produce a miracle, or at least very convincingly explain how your miracle works. Not just tell everybody how cool your miracle is. []
  4. A small point here – the use of this example “We won’t be making a generator to charge your iPhone” – is a favourite trick of practitioners of woo: trivialize a critic’s good question by mocking them with a daft re-phrasing of it. The man simply asked why Steorn didn’t have a demonstration that would do what they claimed – ie, show overunity. This could be as simple as their Orbo motor, under its own power, lighting a simple LED. Since they say they have a working Orbo motor, which can deliver ‘up to 200% efficiency’, then this should be absolutely and utterly straightforward. []
  5. Fractionally longer than the Orbo will remain in rotation without a power supply, is my guess []